CHELSEA vs. RED BULL SALZBURG, 1–1: Noah Okafor cancelled out Raheem Sterling's goal as Graham Potter's first season at Stamford Bridge began with a laborious draw in the Champions League.
Raheem Sterling‘s second-half goal appeared to be enough for the Blues, who had fired Thomas Tuchel only a week before after losing their first group stage game away to Dinamo Zagreb.
However, a late equaliser from Noah Okafor ensured that Matthias Jaissle was the happier manager as Salzburg followed up on their spirited draw with AC Milan last time out. Potter’s men huffed and puffed, but there was no magic in the dying embers.
Five talking points from Stamford Bridge are listed below:
1. Her Majesty remembered
It came as no surprise that Chelsea, a club proud of its British identity, gave Queen Elizabeth II a magnificent tribute on a moving day in west London. Graham Potter wore a black suit for the game as the capital continues to be the focal point of the ongoing national mourning, and Stamford Bridge was covered in Union Jack flags.
Before the game began, the Chelsea Pensioners laid a wreath as the entire stadium impeccably observed a minute of silence. The longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom was also honoured by Red Bull Salzburg supporters in the opposition section, who unfurled a banner that read:: “In memory of Queen Elizabeth II.”
2. Blues pay Tuchel tribute
Another touching moment occurred when Chelsea supporters gave Thomas Tuchel a moment of appreciation as the game entered the 21st minute. The German, who was controversially fired a little over a week ago, was honoured at Stamford Bridge after the Blues won the Champions League in 2021.
Unfortunately for Tuchel, the contest served as his final game in charge after Chelsea’s disastrous group stage debut against Dinamo Zagreb last Tuesday. But as evidenced by their minute-long applause, Blues fans won’t soon forget his contributions to the team.
3. Sterling’s feat with three clubs
After a thrilling first half, Chelsea had a lot to be proud of in terms of what happened on the field, but there were no goals. Raheem Sterling finally scored his first goal of the new era in the second period, thankfully for Potter, after only three minutes of waiting.
Reece James and Mason Mount’s incisive play, which was on display in front of England manager Gareth Southgate, broke down Salzburg’s defence, and Mount then fired a cross into the penalty area. When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, a former captain of Arsenal, fluffed his lines and the ball was intended for him, Sterling was there to seize control of it and curl it into the goal.
In addition to being the first goal of Potter’s tenure, the Blues winger’s strike made him the first English player to score in the Champions League for three different clubs after he also scored for Manchester City and Liverpool.
4. Salzburg go off script
Chelsea appeared to be too comfortable with their lead as the final stages approached. Despite failing to capitalise on Sterling’s goal, Salzburg remained calm and managed to catch the Blues off guard on the counter.
Mateo Kovacic was dispossessed upfield, and Chelsea’s attempts to reclaim possession were futile. Substitute Chukwubuike Adamu charged forward and crossed to Noah Okafor. The Austrian striker darted in front of Cesar Azpilicueta and slotted home, sending the away section into a frenzy.
It wasn’t in the script for Potter’s first match to be so difficult, but there was still 15 minutes to go.
5. No magical beginning for Potter
Even though his team had played well and the atmosphere had been upbeat, Graham Potter’s first few days in the Stamford Bridge dugout were difficult. Chelsea responded to Salzburg’s equaliser well, but they were unable to dismantle their opponents again and were forced to settle for a draw.
Potter can reflect during the international break and get ready for a busy schedule during his honeymoon period because he doesn’t have a weekend Premier League game to look forward to.